“You might say we are awash in definitions of the essay and essays themselves, or to mis-paraphrase Wallace Stevens, ideas about the thing as well as the thing itself.” On The Making of the American Essay, the third and final volume of John D’Agata’s A New History of the Essay.
The Big Friendly Giant is coming to the big screen. Steven Spielberg will direct a live adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic book The BFG about a little girl and a friendly giant trying to stop his friends from eating children. If you had any doubt that Spielberg could bring sympathy to a mythical creature, he’ll be pairing up with E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison again.
Students at the University of California Santa Barbara, Rutgers, Oberlin, and others have been requesting “trigger warning” labels on literature from The Great Gatsby to Huck Finn. In The Guardian, University College London Professor John Mullan snipes, “You might as well put a label on English literature saying: warning – bad stuff happens here.”
“Better to close your eyes and carry on with your own work, pretending the master carpenter doesn’t exist.” Karl Ove Knausgaard reads Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission – one of the most anticipated books of 2015. Pair with this Millions essay on Knausgaard’s My Struggle.
“There was a plan a few years ago, during the crisis of unaccompanied minors arriving on our southern border, to send a copy of The Beast, Óscar Martínez’s extraordinary account of Central American migration to the U.S., to every member of Congress. How many of them read it? And how many of those who read it changed their position? Did any anti-immigrant populist show an ounce of humanity or generosity as a result?” Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk In Circles, on recommending a book to the president.
It’s that time of year again, readers. It’s time to stock up on gossip, skim through pieces on your favorite writers and populate your bookmarks with pages from Ladbrokes and Intrade. It’s time, in other words, to prognosticate the Nobel Prize winner, which Ladbrokes predicts will be the novelist Haruki Murakami. If you read Ben Dooley’s review of 1Q84, you might have placed your bets already.